14 January 2008

Plug-ins at Davis

UC Davis' Institute of Transportation Studies is doing a pilot project to measure consumer reactions to plug-in hybrids. Seems kinda like "duh" to me, but who knows what fabulous information they will uncover in two years at a cost of $3 million. Families that participate will supply feedback when using the cars.

Bottom Line: People are willing to use hybrids; it's just a matter of cost.


  1. The difference is that these aren't like Priuses where the owner doesn't know the difference operationally between a hybrid and a regular car. These cars are the kind you have to plug in to get the hybrid-part going. If people don't plug them in regularly, they don't work the way we'd like (although they still work physically, I think, because they also have a gas engine). There's also a big deal about what time of day the vehicles are plugged in. If the people plug in during the day, it increases electricity system load at the wrong time. If they plug in at night, they very nicely balance out the load. But N. just told me that in past trials, people have plugged in during the day - very bad if that's what would happen on a large scale. And hard to control.

  2. ITS has received quite a bit of funding from CEC and I have heard estimates that up to 25% of the entire CEC PIER program funds may be tied up with the UC system. The problem is, no one is quite sure what or even how the public has benefited from all the "paper" studies. They have been grilled by the Legislator and I believe that the entire program is under some kind of investigation of improper use of state funds. As if all of this wasn't enough for the PIER program, when AB 118 passed, the legislature made sure that PIER was getting the message by transferring $10 million from the PIER program to another program. The funny thing is, it doesn't look like the other program knows what to do with the $120-$125million provided under AB 118 anyway.

    ITS will be in the front of everything for quite some time. The director of ITS sits on the board of the all mighty Air Resources Board and I believe that the adviser to the chairwoman is an ITS alumni. Pretty well connected and most importantly, when push comes to shove, they can produce.

    PHEV's have gained a lot of attention and some pretty big announcements by OEM's at the Detroit auto goes to show how competitive the landscape has become. But we have heard all of this before and if the estimate by AFS-Trinity of an $8500 incremental cost for their system under mass production is right, then that could be a big hurdle to climb out of. Everyone was so busy thinking that the competition for PHEV's was going to be between GM and Toyota that this as a surprise to some.


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